Bettr Barista’s New Coffee Carts

Singapore
By:: 
Sabina-Leah Fernandez

Bettr Barista just keeps getting better. One of Singapore’s most well-known social enterprises is field-testing a new business model to expand their coffee business.

Coffee carts are the future for Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, a Singapore-based social enterprise (SE) that trains disadvantaged youth and women to work in the specialty coffee industry. Founded in 2011, the SE has seen 50 graduates through its Bettr Holistic Training Programme. Of the graduates, 80% found jobs in the industry and - most significantly - 80% reported improved self-confidence and emotional management skills.

The Academy, which has been operating its own full-service mobile espresso brew bar at corporate events since its inception, is now looking turn this model into a social franchise.

Pamela at the coffee machine

“The carts are an extension and natural next step from the academy. Having trained 50 graduates we started to think what is the logical move forward, and nothing is more empowering than being able to run things on your own. It’s an opportunity for our graduates who are willing and capable to be part-owners of their very own little cart,” says Pamela Chng, founder of Bettr Barista.

Prototypes of the Malaysian-made carts use stainless steel and Composite Wood which is made of recycled wood waste and PVC. Bettr Barista plans to trial three carts in the coming year, and is looking for the right venue in a high-traffic office building, or public institution such as a hospital or government building.

The company also hopes the carts will help them expand regionally and beyond their beneficiaries to eventually form a self-sustaining business model.

“This initative is not just for women and at-risk youth, but for anybody who wants to partake in the coffee business and remain aligned with our social mission and values. If the value generated goes back into our eco-system we can use it to generate even more impact,” Pamela explains. 

Bettr Barista's social franchise model will be supported by a sustainable supply chain and an ecosystem of education, resources and industry partners that the social enterprise has spent the last four years cultivating. Over the next five years, Bettr Barista hopes to help 150 more women and young people, and positively impact over 450 of their dependents. 

Jean and Shirley of Bettr Barista

The SE’s future plans are buoyed by a recent grant from the DBS Foundation which has supported over 100 social enterprises in Asia with funding since 2012. And as Pamela tells Asia For Good, the mobile coffee stands are just the beginning.

 “The cart is just one of the possible vehicles of our micro-enterprise idea. It could be a van or a truck. This is an idea that can literally go anywhere,” Pamela says with a smile.

Bettr Barista offers coffee masterclasses that are open to public and mobile brew bars for events. Check out www.bettrbarista.com for more.

 

 If you want to find more about socially conscious living in Asia, check out Asia For Good's social enterprise directory.

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